Portmeirion in ‘strong position to thrive’ once lockdown restrictions are lifted

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Pottery manufacturer Portmeirion says it is in a ‘strong position’ to thrive once restrictions are lifted around the world – after partially re-opening its factory earlier this month.

The Stoke-based firm temporarily shut its London Road factory in March as part of the Government-enforced coronavirus lockdown.

But the company has now slowly started to re-start operations – and expects to increase its capacity in the coming weeks.

Now the firm has issued a trading update to the London Stock Exchange detailing its outlook for the second quarter of the year.

The statement said: “We temporarily shut our Stoke-on-Trent ceramic factory in late March. Since that time our teams have worked to implement new safe social distancing procedures in line with Covid-19 secure guidelines issued by the government.

“We partially re-opened the factory on May 6 at a reduced capacity in order to fulfil existing export orders, and expect to increase our capacity in the coming weeks.

“Our warehouses in the UK and US have continued to operate safely and efficiently, servicing our e-commerce business without any disruption.”

It continues: “With retail stores around the world shut down since March due to Covid-19 lockdowns, our business has been significantly impacted and we expect this to continue through the second quarter until there is clarity around how and when stores will re-open.

“But we believe that the early and swift action we took to minimise cash burn during the Covid-19 crisis will put us in a strong position to thrive once lockdown restrictions are lifted around the world. We expect our cash burn in Q2 to be less than £1 million and, as previously reported, our balance sheet remains strong with sufficient committed bank facilities and headroom.”

Portmeirion – which owns brands including Spode, Royal Worcester, Pimpernel, Wax Lyrical and Nambe – also reports that it has seen a ‘significant’ uplift in its online sales in the UK and US and that its e-commerce site sales were up by more than 100 per cent in April compared to the same period last year.

The company added that, during the next two months, it expects to ship in excess of one million units of hand sanitiser to the community, NHS and pharmacies after re-purposing production lines at its Cumbria-based Wax Lyrical factory to manufacture the much-needed product.

The statement concludes: “We have continued to ship export orders to the Far East where retail stores have now re-opened, and have seen a significant uplift in our online sales in the UK and US. Our own e-commerce site sales were up by more than 100 per cent in April 2020 over the same period last year and we expect this trend to continue in the coming months.

“The Board remains committed to maintaining a sustainable and appropriate level of dividend payments over the long term. Whilst we remain cautious about the immediate future we will reinstate our interim and final dividend payments as soon as we feel it prudent so to do, and will next provide an update in our interim results announcement.

“We have a robust strategy to leverage our powerful portfolio of homeware brands. Throughout the pandemic we have continued to focus on and progress our new product development pipeline and invest in growing our online sales channels.”

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